Endangered Cham Manuscripts of Vietnam

According to the “Report on Results of the 2019 Census” there are currently almost 179,000 Cham living in Vietnam. An important minority group from Central Vietnam and the Mekong Delta region, the Cham people have a history and culture that is unique to Southeast Asia. 

 

Historically, Cham manuscripts have not been easily accessible to scholars. This digitization project not only rectifies this longstanding barrier to research, but also preserves the information in these manuscripts against the degradations of Vietnam’s tropical climate. As of 2014 there were approximately 3,000 Cham manuscripts held by Central Vietnam’s Cham communities. These documents contain valuable evidence of the Cham writing system, customs, linguistics, and history. 

 

The collection contains 977 manuscripts, totaling more than 57,800 pages of material. 26 palm-leaf manuscripts are included among these items. The physical manuscripts of these digital surrogates remain today with their original owners and communities in Vietnam, where they continue to be used as religious items. This project would not have been possible without the funding supports from project partners, the British Library and the Center of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City.